Like most normal well-adjusted children with happy childhoods, I thought Voodoo dolls were cool and may have attempted to use them to cause harm to people who caused me grave injustice, which was likely over some trivial matter. As I grew older, I began studying various world religions and educated myself about Voodoo. This is where something shocking was revealed; the term Voodoo doll is somewhat of a misnomer as these items have little to do with actual Voodoo. I did learn about how houngans create zombies, which is way more interesting than those stupid dolls that didn’t even work, but I digress. Developers at Over the Top Games have also studied up Voodoo and while Full Mojo Rampage may not explain all the mysteries of this belief system, the heavy Voodoo influence makes for a very stylistic game.
Full Mojo Rampage is a po’ boy filled with the influence of various game types. At its core it is a roguelike action RPG, meaning death is a fairly common temporary inconvenience where all your items and level progress are lost but gold is maintained and experience points can be spent to level up and grow stronger. What makes the tried and true roguelike formula unusual, at least based on personal experience, is that this is played like an overhead twin stick shooter making this the illegitimate love child of Smash TV and one of the countless roguelikes out there. Maury might have to do a show where he rounds up all the roguelikes to force them to undergo to polygraph and paternity tests to fully know the lineage of this title. Don’t laugh, Full Mojo Rampage not knowing its father is tragic.
Full Mojo Rampage can be entertaining as a solo venture but for the more socially active gamer there are a variety of online multiplayer modes so all the other apprentice houngans and mambos can join in on the fun. Competitive modes can support up to eight players, which include Capture the Flag, King of the Mojo, or Deathmatch. For people who want to do the bidding of these deities known as loas with some help, co-op play is also available. As this is a roguelike, death lurks around every corner and they say there is safety in numbers, so it is advisable to grab some friends and practice safe hex. These various multiplayer modes do not exactly revolutionize online multiplayer, the basic format of these multiplayer modes have been seen in numerous other games but they do add the potential for hours of fun.
Taking the role of a houngan apprentice, the player finds themselves learning the lesson of don’t drink and summon the hard way. Being drunk while practicing the dark arts can lead to some undesired consequences, such as teleporting one self to an area where a loa orders you around. To give a brief rundown of what can be found as a result of drunken dabbling in the dark arts, first area’s mission involve sealing off portals to another dimension. This is while fighting off zombies and skeletons, some of which also have some magic powers. Memorizing the map is complete futility since each stage is randomly generated after each resurrection. This is actually a good thing, with death being as common as it is playing the same map repeatedly would get quite boring.
In addition to the large number of things that want to kill you in each level, there are secret items and shrines waiting to be discovered. Since player inventory is extremely limited, one of the more useful locations that can be discovered is an altar that allows you to combine two items together, this allows you to keep the bonuses bestowed by both of them while freeing up inventory. Just don’t get too attached to any items since all is lost when death finally catches you. It was heartbreaking when I lost the rubber chicken that would generate my health whenever I succeeded in killing something, even though most things I killed seemed like they had died at least once before. Death apparently is pretty well off since even though he snatches all your items he lets you keep your money.
Randomness is one of the few constants in this game, and this is taken even further when a stage is completed. When a stage is completed the path to a mystery location opens up, and traveling to these mystery spots on the map can create any number of things. Maybe fortune will smile on you and the loa will shower you with coins and other useful prizes. Or it could lead you to an area much like the area that was just completed to battle with a giant fire spewing chicken. One of the stranger ones converted the game from 3D to 2D, and my character was a yellow @ in a Pac-Man inspired 8-bit world fighting off attacking letters.
Getting into the actual gameplay, this is actually quite smooth. The left stick controls movement and the right stick shoots whatever it is you’re shooting in whatever direction its aimed. The twin stick control scheme is ideal for running in a random evasive pattern while still firing at your attackers. The other buttons can be used to cast spells or use items, some of which call on assistance from a loa who shows up to provide additional fire power. Temporary standard weapon power up are always a great find, having a laser or spread shot is much more useful than the standard green magic balls that serve as the standard weapon.
Full Mojo Rampage sounds like an odd amalgamation of game styles, but is also an example of how to properly do such a thing. The impulse to loot every crevice of each randomly generated area keeps the game from getting stale and the roguelike formula makes each death seem like progress, along with a heightened feeling of accomplishment when the level is finally completed. The online multiplayer options make this a fun way to fulfill the need for social interaction without having to leave your house and actually deal with people. In a nutshell, this a great pick up and play game that can be entertaining for marathon sessions or just to kill a half hour. On top of the fun gameplay, the art direction is a great stylized approach to incorporating the Voodoo influence and Alistar Lindsay’s soundtrack fits the style perfectly.